Are You Planning To Give Up Smoking? Tips That Helped Me

 

When cigarettes had brand names...

When cigarettes had brand names…

So we’re only a couple of hours away from welcoming in 2013. I adore New Year’s Eve and last year we celebrated with a ripper party at our house that went till the wee hours of the morning. Friends brought kids and the sunroom area was awash with water from screaming tikes running wet from the pool through our midst.  I’m sure I stayed up extra late, knowing that once I went to bed, it was all over. Smoking, that is. Yes, my resolution last year was to GIVE UP SMOKING.

 

 

Most people who know me didn’t think I could. I’d tried many times before and when the last time didn’t work for me, I declared, ‘I’ve given up GIVING UP.’ MY theory was that there was no point. Smokers would always be smokers – that the urge would never leave them, or me. What mostly happened when I gave up is that I became shockingly cranky, stacked on weight and then ended up taking it up again six months later. So what was the point?

I wasn’t what you’d call a chronic smoker. Mostly I didn’t have my first cigarette of the day till the afternoon. It was a ‘reward’ – a time for some ‘time out’ with a coffee after a hard morning’s work. Even if I hadn’t worked hard. And while I might only have smoked half a dozen cigarettes a day, smoking with friends while drinking, meant the number would increase rapidly. It was a treat – an indulgence.

Smoking while reading Jackie Collins

Smoking while reading Jackie Collins

I’d smoked regularly since I was eighteen, although had choked on my first cigarette at around fifteen. Then most of the men I dated smoked too, so it was easy to keep puffing away. Here’s a trashy picture – at 26, in Italy with Fletch, caught reading Jackie Collins while puffing away in bed. Ewww… but sheez, I loved it.

 

 

Then there were the parties, and yes, I’m sure I thought I was glamorous, not knowing how much other people recoiled from my stench.

Big hat party

Big hat party

Did I really think that hat worked? And the cigarette?

Did I really think that hat worked? And the cigarette?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we had children, I managed to hide my smoking from them until Veronica was about nine. When I thought she was asleep one night, I sat outside and was inhaling deeply when she burst through the back door, pointing at me in horror, saying ,’Mummy! You’re smoking! Oh no, did Daddy make you do it?’ Well of course I had to say, ‘Yes, naughty Daddy! He made me! But I’m giving up tomorrow.’

But I didn’t give up ‘that’ tomorrow all those years ago. And I was nagged and hounded by the kids ever since to give up. Fletch had also struggled with giving up smoking and gave up a few months before me, around October 2011. I hated him because he even made it look easy. But he did use nicotine patches. I promised back then I’d give up after the races, which then turned in to New Year’s Eve.

I knew this time was more serious than other attempts. For many reasons, but of course, the most important has to be for yourself and your health. But for those of you considering giving up – it’s not going to be easy. I did find it hard and I still find it hard occasionally. But there are things you can do to lessen the pain. So here are my tips for giving up:

(1) Buy this book or the CD version. It’s called How To Stop Smoking (and stay stopped for good) by Gillian Riley. I’m not a huge fan of self-help books and usually find them dull, so I bought the CD version and listened to it in the car. I’ve read several books about giving up smoking (including Allan Carr’s) and I think this is the best. It has the most practical approach and it’s not a gimmick. It doesn’t try to fool you into believing there’s one ‘easy’ quick solution. It spells out that you ARE going to find it hard, but tough luck – live through it and endure it, because that’s the only way to beat it. But it does also have some very valuable advice and ideas about how to deal with an addiction. It takes a deeper psychological approach which makes a lot more sense to me, than any form of hypnotherapy or tablet taking.

The best tip from the book is to make a list of all the reasons you are giving up. Then, Gillian says you must always give yourself permission to smoke. But before you actually do, you must read your list and accept you are giving up ALL those incredibly important things – before you light up. That makes it much tougher.

The CD version of Gillian Riley's book 'How to Stop Smoking'

The CD version of Gillian Riley’s book ‘How to Stop Smoking’

Elusion electronic cigarettes

Elusion electronic cigarettes

(2) Buy some electronic cigarettes – not with nicotine filters. I bought the Elusion brand, and while I don’t advocate using these all the time, as that reinforces the notion that smoking IS fun, it’s a good prop when you feel you’re about to break and reach for a cigarette. Basically, you inhale vapour which fulfils that need for something to fill your lungs – even though it’s not nearly as satisfying as the ‘real thing’.

(3) Keep plenty of sugar-free chewing gum on hand. It gives your mouth something to do without absorbing mega-calories.

(4) For the first few months, avoid friends who smoke a lot. This is hard, but I found a lot of my smoker friends really want you to take it up again. You get lines like, ‘Oh, go on, have one! You’d find it easy to be a social smoker!’ And you know they do it because smokers love company and it makes them feel better about their bad habit. But I still get smoking envy if we’re out to dinner and a few of the gang go outside to have a puff…

(5) Make a list of the reasons you are giving up (as suggested by Gillian) and review it regularly. Positive reinforcement is a great motivator.

(6) Remember that if you light up, that cigarette will be the first of hundreds more. It won’t just be ONE.

(7) If you DO break your resolution to give up because of an emotional upset or peer group pressure, or the lessening of will-power under the influence of alcohol – don’t beat yourself up, but get back on the ‘giving up’ band wagon straight away.

And yes, I have broken my resolution several times during the year – but not often, so overall I’m pretty proud to say that I HAVE given up smoking. But this year, one of my resolutions will be to re-affirm my GIVING UP SMOKING vow and to listen again to my Gillian Riley CDs. I hope I can get through 2013 without breaking once. And let’s face it, isn’t it great not to have to wake up to THIS the next morning?

A great reason to give up

A great reason to give up

 

Happy New Year and my 2013 bring all of you strength with your resolutions and many wonderful surprises!

 

Who can help with the best advice about monetizing Blogs?

I’ve loved being a Blogger for the past six months and would much rather continue writing in this format than try to find a ‘real’ job. But then there’s that pesky question about making a living, which is quite annoying. Which means I’m going to look at advertising options for the website. BUT – and this is the BIG question – the Blogosphere is still a vast, fast-changing and ever-developing landscape, so I’d like to know what others think about the best way to tackle this. What do YOU think?

Can Blogs earn money?

Can Blogs earn money?

We’ve been looking at many options and I’m still weighing up several possibilities. I may even experiment with a few ideas, before I settle on one particular path. So I hope you’ll bear with me, knowing that whichever way this goes, I will always write truthfully and will not be subjected to the influence of advertisers.

The Muesli - 97% sugar free

The Muesli – 97% sugar free

At the moment, I’m pretty keen on trying a sugar-free experiment in the New Year, so it’s unlikely I’d be looking for sponsorship from confectionary or ice-cream manufacturers… I’m going to try getting fit as well – which could be a huge disaster – but advertising sporting events and healthy living would be another good fit. Conversely, I love sitting on my bum and being entertained, so advertising from the films and entertainment industries would suit too. Film reviews will become more of a focus in 2013. And I’ll always be writing about fashion and beauty products, so those brands and services would always work well.

 

For anyone interested in advertising on my website, you can contact my website designer, Kelly,on this email address: youguys@catacombcreative.com  for rates and details.

The Australia Grand Prix Run next March

The Australia Grand Prix Run next March

I’m also going to try a more reliable format in 2013, so you know what to expect from this Blog site on particular days of the week. More about that in the near future.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering – I have not been paid for any of the articles written on this website by anyone.

So I’ll keep researching this conundrum and keep you up-to-date with what I learn along the way. If it works, great, I can continue to write what I like and enjoy having a Blogger voice to the outside world.

 

If not, you might catch me at the local pub pulling beers. Which ain’t such a bad option, now I think about it…

 

How to get the Longest Eyelashes

 

My new I-Pad

My new I-Pad

I was going to post this yesterday, as my Christmas gift to you, but then realised most of you would miss it, due to the fact that you’d be too busy celebrating. Far better to post it today when most of us are lazing around watching the Boxing Day cricket or reading in the sun. Or playing games on your I-phone or I-pad, and a big thank you to Fletch for my fancy new I-Pad for Christmas! This means I’ll be able to Blog more effectively with such a nifty, portable device.

 

Now back to the bit about me giving something to you – and this really is more of a girly thing – although that’s not to say men don’t want long eyelashes too, because let’s face it, the longer the lashes, the better the frame for any eyes – male or female. This is my secret tip on how to make your lashes grow longer, and if you look at the before and after photos of my lashes, you’ll see proof it really does work.

There is a small problem in that I have no medical authority to pass on this information, so please check with your doctor before taking up this advice.

I first learnt about Careprost when I was working as an MC at a charity function last year and was seated next to the keynote speaker – a young doctor who was speaking about the prevention of stroke. Not only was she smart and very attractive, I couldn’t help but stare at her eyelashes. Long, thick and dark – I could only assume she’d had extensions. Over lunch we struck up a conversation and, trying to be tactful, I asked what mascara she used. She told me the secret wasn’t her mascara, but a treatment she used nightly.

She’d been given the tip from another female doctor who, while researching glaucoma treatments, discovered a wonderful side effect of the eye-drops they were testing, was that all their patients had developed amazingly long lashes.

The product is called Careprost and can be ordered from an Indian on-line pharmacy called All Day Chemist. (www.alldaychemist.com) It costs only $11.00 and I’d recommend when first ordering, to spend the extra ONE DOLLAR buying the application brush as well. As the product is so cheap and postage isn’t, I’d also recommend buying there or four bottles at a time. The bottles are also quite small so it’s worth buying a couple at least.

3 Careprost

Careprost

Check out these before and after photos of my eyelashes as proof of the improvement.

Tom and me, more than 10 years ago

Tom and me, more than 10 years ago

This photo was taken when Tom was just a toddler and he’s now fifteen. So you would expect more than ten years ago, my lashes would have been a little bit fuller and longer than they are today.

Close-up of my lashes

Close-up of my lashes

 

 

 

 

Without make-up and mascara today

Without make-up and mascara today

 

Now here’s a shot of my lashes today – even without mascara.

 

 

With mascara today

With mascara today

 

 

With mascara, it almost looks like I’ve glued on falsies – but I haven’t.

 

 

Use Careprost nightly

Use Careprost nightly

 

It’s just a case of dipping the brush into the tiny bottle each night, and wiping the fluid along the lash line.

 

 

Applying Careprost

Applying Careprost

 

Some say you shouldn’t brush the liquid UNDER the eye, as it may cause irritation, but I do the bottom lashes as well and haven’t experienced any problems.

Overall, it will probably take a couple of months to see a difference, but it’s worth it.

 

 

I tried having eyelash extensions once and found it not only expensive, but the tendrils drop off pretty quickly – not to mention the sheer horror of having to lie still for more than an hour to have them applied. THAT drove me crazy.

There’s one more thing. I do believe the mascara I use is one of the best on the market and also contributes to the appearance of longer lashes.

mascara

Kevyn Aucoin mascara

Kevyn Aucoin mascara. It’s produced under the Kevyn Aucoin make-up line – Kevyn being a formally famous Hollywood make-up artist, renowned for his brilliance. It’s a bit more pricey here than overseas, but it’s practically impossible to buy it on-line, as Mecca have the sole rights to importing it into Australia. Which means you can only buy it at Mecca and it’s about $35.

Oh yes, and I’m also rather fond of the Kevyn Aucoin marketing strategy which spins a good philosophy.

Kevyn Aucoin advertisement

Kevyn Aucoin advertisement

So there you have it guys – my Christmas gift to you – the secret to longer lashes! Long may yours grow.

 

Les Miserables – a masterpiece, but don’t forget the tissues!

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

 

Ah, Les Miserables – I should have known that with Cameron Mackintosh producing and Tom Hooper directing, you couldn’t disappoint. But having such a strong passion for the musical version, I was fearful the movie wouldn’t live up to expectations.

Reading the history of the film’s development, it’s clear the road to final completion has been long and challenging with many changes in the production team along the way. Alan Parker was first named as the film’s director way back in 1988… and then there was a period where development stopped altogether.

But after attending Melbourne’s premiere of the film on Friday night, I’m delighted to say the wait has been worthwhile. Based on Victor Hugo’s French novel from 1862, the epic screen adaptation is a triumph. While the story of Les Miserables is already a proven winner, (the stage show having been seen by an estimated 60 million people world-wide) it’s effect on the audience weighs heavily on the actors ability to impart the emotional  authenticity of their experience. And this is where the film’s success lies – in brilliant casting and performances.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

Hugh Jackman has long been recognised as a strong performer, but this truly IS his moment. As Jean Valjean, he conveys emotional depth and pain with a power and intensity that resonates immediately and continues throughout the length of the film. I don’t think I’ve gone through so many tissues in one film for quite some time. While I’m a huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan, it’s disappointing to hear that many believe Jackman will be robbed of an Oscar opportunity with Day-Lewis already being lauded an Oscar favourite.

There’s also been much publicity about the fact that the actors filmed their songs ‘live’ to camera, with an orchestra added in post-production. It’s a brilliant approach that adds enormously to the film’s strength because of the authenticity from the vocal performances. Anything else would have felt contrived.

Russell Crowe as Javert

Russell Crowe as Javert

Much has also been said of Russell Crowe’s performance – that’s it’s sub-standard and there’s many an actor who would have been better cast in the role of Inspector Javert. Quite frankly, I didn’t mind Russell’s portrayal. He obviously doesn’t possess the same vocal talents as Jackman, but – and probably BECAUSE the actors sang live – I felt his performance had strength in it’s weakness – that the weakness he conveyed was that of his character, which made him all the more human and believable. If moments of doubt were seen in his eyes, I saw that as an expression of his character doubting the strength of his own convictions – not Crowe doubting the strength of his own voice. It is Jean Valjean who forces Javert to reassess all his beliefs, and surely we as an audience, must see this occurring if we are to ultimately believe the path Javert chooses that leads to his downfall.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Anne Hathaway as Fantine is exceptional. Well deserving of all accolades she’s already received, Hathaway surprises with her ability. Passionate about the role, Hathaway reportedly threw herself into the part one hundred per cent, losing a lot of weight and her own hair as part of the process to achieve her remarkable performance. Is it possible to feel more despair than she conveys with those huge, dark eyes? Even her voice tears at the heart. Her version of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ is powerful yet fragile, and I’m sure would have warranted a standing ovation had it been live theatre.

 

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Samantha Barks as Eponine

It’s also pleasing to see theatre actors included. Samantha Barks, cast as Eponine, played the role for a year in London and is outstanding. The only problem with her work is that she is so utterly convincing, it’s almost hard to believe Marius would actually prefer Cosette (played by Amanda Seyfriend) above her. Although fortunately Marius, played by the wonderful Eddie Redmayne, is perfectly cast for the role and ultimately persuades us of his undying love for Cosette. I don’t think I’ve seen a truer expression of ‘young love’ lighting up the face of a male actor with more conviction in many years.

My only criticism of the film would be about some of the overly dark and melodramatic set production, designed to give the audience a feel for the oppression and poverty experienced by those prior to the French Revolution in 1832. At times, (while we watch Fantine’s life fall apart) the shadows and lurid make-up give the film a pantomime-esque and surreal flavour. Perhaps the intention is to recreate a sense of theatre, but it subtracts from the real tragedy that is taking place. But that’s a minor issue when weighed up against the films achievements and that of its actors.

Overall, it’s bound to go down in history as a classic and one that shouldn’t be missed. Make sure you see it over the holidays on the big screen – although given it’s remarkable power, I’m sure it’ll be in the cinemas for quite some time to come. I know I’ll be going back to see it again. And again… and again…

 

 

Inspirational Life Changes: EMMA DUMAS – from TV Producer to Food Producer (OR Why a glass of wine is better than a glass of apple juice!!!)

 

Managing Director and owner of The Muesli, Emma Dumas is a crusader on an anti-sugar campaign. And not just to promote her breakfast cereal. She firmly believes SUGAR is the root of all nutritional evil. After interviewing Emma, I’m pretty much convinced too, so now the Muffin Top journey has ended, I’m going to try another experiment. I’m going to add another test of willpower to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. But more about that later.

Emma Dumas: owner 'The Muesli'

Emma Dumas: owner ‘The Muesli’

 

Let’s chat with Emma first. This is the third in my series of interviews, under the banner ‘Inspirational Life Changes.’ It’s about people who successfully change careers at some point in their lives and turn to a job that’s quite different, requiring new challenges and skills. With people living longer, it’s a much more common choice, so it’s wonderful to learn from others who have been brave enough to take a leap of faith into another area of expertise and make it work. Their experience can teach and inspire us.

 

 

Before The Muesli took over Emma’s life, she was a successful television producer. From a stint in radio, she began working at Channel Nine in 1989. ‘I was in TV production for many years, starting at the Nine Network in Special Projects as a Producer,’ said Emma as we chatted over a coffee. ‘I then started up my own company, Prime Time Productions and left Nine in 1993.’

Working in Special Projects meant Emma was involved in the production of major live events, like Carols by Candlelight, the Logie Awards and the Arias. It’s a job requiring super organisational skills, not to mention a good dose of persuasiveness when trying to convince stars to appear on shows. Emma then produced several highly acclaimed programs with her own company, Prime Time productions with another partner from Nine.

‘Then I had the babies from ’98, so I sold out of Prime Time in 2000, just before the birth of our second, Sophie,’ said Emma. ‘From there, I had about six months off, then Michael Hirsh rang me from Working Dog so I started producing The Panel from 2000 until it ran its course, in about mid 2005.’

It was about that time that Emma’s good friend Donna Aston, (personal trainer for the stars and registered nutritionist) who she’d worked and trained with, sparked an idea. ‘She was saying to me, “My clients are doing my head in. They cannot get their heads around breakfast and get it right.” I’d written recipes for her over the years for several books so I said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it. I’ll prepare something.’ So I mixed up this concoction and started making The Muesli.’ Emma said, smiling.

 

The Muesli

The Muesli

 

‘I’d parcel it up in one kilo zip lock bags and started taking in ten or twenty at a time to her gym and they started to sell. It was based on the fact that people just could NOT get an option on a supermarket shelf that was actually healthy. There’s a big perception that all muesli’s are a health food and people are doing the right thing buying it, but they’re really grabbing things that are up to 48 per cent sugar. And that’s before you start thinking about the roasting and toasting and the damage to fats in all the roasted and toasted products.’

 

 

I voiced my disappointment, being a lover of the roasted and toasted variety, but Emma insisted NONE of them are any good. ‘Absolutely no good!’ she said sternly. ‘So with all those things in mind, I put The Muesli together. Something that was nutritionally great. Donna loved it. It was high in protein, the fats are all raw, so they’re in their essential form and it just happened to be naturally sugar-free, because I would never have included anything that was sugary – which is dried fruit or honey or anything like that.’

I’ve tried Emma’s muesli and also love it, but could have sworn there were sultanas somewhere in the mix. “No,’ said Emma. ‘That’s how it’s sugar free. Because dried fruit is concentrated sugar. Our muesli is fifty percent nuts and seeds. 36 per cent oats and 14 per cent coconut. And the nutrition panel contains just 1.6 grams per 100grams of sugars, which occur naturally from within those ingredients.’

Proof of it’s taste-good factor comes from it’s popularity. As demand from Donna’s gym clients grew, Emma found it difficult to juggle both her TV production job and being a muesli chef. ‘Well I was working as well, and so I was in a hairnet and gloves in the kitchen at night, mixing my fifty kilos a month in massive vats and chopping it my thermo mix and yes, it was tough. It really was. Particularly when I was doing things like Thank God You’re Here. They were massive days. I’d suddenly get an order and think, ‘Oh my God…’

From supplying just one gym, Emma’s business quickly grew. ‘Basically it’s been a learning process. The fact that our muesli has so little sugar in it appealed to me as a selling point. So down the track, I decided to team up with Heather Brodie, who is a friend, and then we started producing commercially mid 2010.’

Now Emma only uses her own kitchen for family food preparation. ‘We sourced a company called OmniBlend which is a co-packer. So they produce according to our instructions, making a blend exactly to my recipe and package it. It’s all done in a factory that meets all the food standards. Then we launched  a website in early 2011 and it’s been growing ever since then.’

Emma Dumas with her product The Muesli

Emma Dumas with her product The Muesli

When working on the marketing strategy, Emma’s passion for the anti-sugar campaign grew. ‘We use a 99 per cent sugar-free slogan as part of the logo and the sugar thing kept resonating with me. I knew from research just how busy the marketplace was, so I knew there wasn’t any point putting just another muesli onto the shelves, among the dozens that are there already. I realised that the sugar thing was big. I also simultaneously became aware of David Gillespie who has written the book ‘Sweet Poison’ and he is brilliant. Everything he says, I absolutely  subscribe to,’ she said, her voice becoming more emphatic.

‘I fully believe from everything that I have read, not just from him, but other research as well, that sugar is THE biggest health crisis the world will ever know. And the sugar industry – BIG sugar world-wide is SO powerful. The vested interests in keeping sugar in everything are so huge that they’re very, very good at information generation – information that creates confusion and clouds the issue and covers up what is happening.’

Emma then went into a detailed explanation about how sugar works. To summarise:

SUGAR = 2 MOLECULES (fructose and glucose)

FRUCTOSE is the ‘natural’ sugar everyone talks about.

Emma is not a fan of FRUCTOSE. ‘There are lots of foods that are labelled Only Natural Sugars and you can be guaranteed that they’re chock full of fructose. Sadly it’s the fructose that’s causing all the problems. Glucose is the basic building block of all energy. So our bodies utilise the tiny simple glucose cell for all of its energy.’

But apparently our bodies have not evolved in a way that enables us to process fructose. ‘The only area in your body that’s capable of doing anything with it – is your liver. So what it does, is to turn it immediately into fat,’ said Emma. ‘So fatty liver disease is something being diagnosed more and more and its because the fructose half of sugar. David Gillespie says that if you drink a glass of apple juice, the fructose in that glass of apple juice is circulating in your blood as fat, before you’ve even finished drinking that glass.’

And then Emma told me something I hadn’t known before. While other food types have corresponding hormones to let our bodies know when we’ve eaten enough, sugar doesn’t. Which means you can keep eating sugary stuff WITHOUT feeling full. ‘ It ALSO suppresses existing hormones, so not only will you take in more fructose, but you can keep taking in other stuff as well.’

Ouch. That sounds pretty bad… In effect, sugar can actually increase our appetite? ‘Yes,’ said Emma firmly. ‘It’s the single most addictive substance freely available.’

With that in mind, I ask Emma if her children are allowed lollies. And if so, do they actually eat them, given they must have heard her stance on sugar?  ‘They do,’ she said. ‘Because I’m not a complete Nazi. But they’re very conscious of it. Although the 12-year-old is totally bored by me. But they take it on board and they do understand it and they probably do restrict themselves quite willingly without me needing to do much about it.’

Before you read the next part of the interview, take a look at this picture. A banquet of lollies to choose from that most people would find hard to resist… Is your mouth watering yet? Now read on.

Sugar and spice and all things nice...

Sugar and spice and all things nice…

Jen: And do you have a strict diet yourself?
Emma: I do. I lost about nine kilos in 2005 with Donna when I first began this. And I’ve kept it off. I basically cut out all processed foods – anything white – bread, potato and sugar. But I was never a massive sweet tooth. I’d eat a bowl of chips before chocolate.

Jen: How long since you’ve had a pig out on lollies?
Emma: Well, I used to eat dark chocolate, and I loved that but then I realised even that has too much sugar for what I want to do. I have to take this seriously, so sugar is the thing I completely restrict so it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a lolly.

Jen: What, a year? (can you hear my incredulous tone?)
Emma, Oh no! It would be since 2005.

Jen: REALLY???????
Emma: Oh yes.

Jen: NOT ONE LOLLY?
Emma: No.

Jen: You’re a freak.

There was a long pause, as I sat there stunned. How could ANYONE not eat ONE lolly for SEVEN years??? I mean, revisit that photo above. How could anyone say NO to that? But it’s a good thing, right? So how has Emma managed this – what is her SECRET to such amazing self-discipline?

Emma says it was probably easier for her than most, as she didn’t really have a sweet tooth to begin with. ‘I’d have a dim sim over a lolly any day. But it’s hard for most people because sugar IS the single most addictive substance. And if you are a sweet tooth, then you probably are addicted.’

That would be me… But Emma assures me there’s hope. ‘You can wean yourself off it,’ she said. ‘You will literally though, have withdrawal problems. Headaches and that kind of thing. And you can avoid chocolate and lollies, but the problem with our food source – the way that society is now – is that so many of the foods available for us that are on the supermarket shelves rare LOADED with sugar.’

‘That’s been my big thing that I’m campaigning about. Because sugar is killing people. It is completely implicated in every single health crisis we have going on. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease. You name it and sugar is implicated.’

But Emma says it’s a hard battle to fight because so many major corporations have so much money invested in industries that use sugar. ‘For instance, Sixty Minutes ran a piece about the dangers of sugar earlier in the year, but only two weeks later, Channel Nine had a piece on A Current Affair that exonerated sugar. Because of the advertisers. So the vested interests are massive.’

‘We’ve been terrorised for forty years by the slogan ‘Fat Free’ but to make the fat free food bearable, they load it up with sugar to compensate for taste. To make it palatable. And in those 30 to 40 years, the correlations between sugar consumption and the diseases that we’ve talked about are massive, And we’re not getting slimmer – we’re getting fatter a lll the time. You can guarantee the sugar industry has been behind the far-free campaign.’

So what do we do as a community, I ask? ‘I truly believe if people did nothing else but attempt to control their sugar intake by limiting anything that they buy, eat or use in cooking to LESS THAN FIVE GRAMS PER 100 GRAMS OR LESS THAN FIVE PER CENT SUGAR, it would make a difference. If we all did nothing more complex than that, we would see a massive impact.’

Emma calls it THE ONE LINE RULE. ‘And dieticians and nutritionists will jump up and down and say, you can’t put it all down to one thing, but what’s being prescribed and what they’ve been saying for the last forty years hasn’t worked. We’ve just been getting fatter and sicker. So I say, stick to this simple rule. Limit the sugar to this level and there’ll be a huge difference.’

I have a VERY important question that’s bothering me. I can cope with vetting the products I buy at the supermarket. I might even be able to cope with cutting out lollies.

BUT WHAT ABOUT WINE?

Wine is better for us than apple juice!

Wine is better for us than apple juice!

‘Interestingly, fructose changes it’s structure in wine – in the fermentation process, ‘ said Emma. ‘So wine’s never good in excess, but it’s not as bad as you might think.’

THANK GOD. ‘So…’ I ask optimistically, ‘does that mean wine is better for us than apple juice?’

‘WAY better,’ said Emma definitively. ‘I’d be drinking wine over apple juice any day.’

 

YAYYYYYYYY. That’s the best news I’ve had all week.

More wine, less apple juice.

To get her message out there, (about sugar, not wine…) Emma wants to start speaking at schools to educate young people from an early age. With a Bachelor of Applied Science behind her, she has the credentials. ‘It’s just common sense,’ she said. ‘I’ve got two daughters at body-image age, and THE ONE LINE RULE resonates really well and really safely with kids at a dangerous age.’

 

Emma Dumas with her product, The Muesli

Emma Dumas with her product, The Muesli

‘It’s a much safer awareness than worrying about fatty food. Just look at the nutrition box on the labels of food and you’ll easily see whether there’s more than five per cent sugar or not.’

And what about fruit? Emma says one piece of fruit a day is fine. For breakfast though, NO jams or honey on toast. Choose vegemite or avocado instead. Better still, stock up on The Muesli!!

So that’s the challenge I’m going to set myself in the New Year. I’m going to add THE ONE LINE RULE to my resolutions list and see how long I can stick with it. Along the way, I’ll give you tips on which foods to avoid and which ones get a big tick.

Emma says while she misses the people and personalities she worked with in the television industry, she’s loving her running her own business with Heather. They’re extending their range of The Muesli to include a gluten free variety and even have plans to go international.

If you’d like to try The Muesli, here’s a SPECIAL OFFER. If you subscribe to this Blog (and it’s free, so just push the right buttons and you can do it in a minute) then just be one of the first TEN readers to email Emma, and she will send you a FREE 450g pack of The Muesli.

Happy Christmas!

 

Email Emma Dumas at emma@themuesli.com.au
And to find out where to buy The Muesli, go to the website at http://themuesli.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Christmas Spirit in the face of tragedy

This morning I was going to write about how stressful the lead-up to Christmas has been, but the front page of The Age stopped me in my tracks. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut by now, and despite being shocked by all the information, it was the photos of those beautiful children that really kicked me in the guts. This was the first time I’d seen images of the children who were killed.

Front page of The Age today...

Front page of The Age today…

Unimaginable sadness…

It changes the colour of Christmas, doesn’t it? Christmas IS all about kids – their joy, anticipation and innocence gives the festive season some meaning. Forevermore Christmas will now be a time of mourning for those families who lost their babies. And the six adults. Knowing so many families’ lives have been devastated by this tragedy, of course, makes our troubles seem pathetic.

The only positive to come from this is to hug our own children all the more tightly and cherish each day we have with them. Put aside trivial concerns about messy bedrooms, the unpacked dishwasher, sibling squabbles and marital spats to remember how precious and fleeting life is.

I feel guilty now about what I was going to write. About how Christmas can be a burden – especially for women, who often bear the brunt of present shopping and food preparation. I was also going to whinge about how I’m finding it hard to match the enthusiastic festive spirit of my daughter, and now I feel I deserve a huge slap in the face. So here’s a new version of what I wanted to tell you.

It started when I had friends over for drinks at the weekend and felt I couldn’t even begin to tidy the house because it is crammed with Christmas junk. And it’s Veronica’s fault. Because of our daughter, our house is swamped with Christmas chaos. Littered with STUFF from floor to ceiling. Her brother groans as we start pulling STUFF out of boxes each year. ‘Oh no, not again,’ he moans. ‘Crap everywhere, AGAIN.’ In a way, I know how he feels. I sigh inwardly as Christmas approaches, knowing I’m going to have to heave umpteen boxes out of the attic and down the stairs to help Veronica create her Christmas heaven.

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree

 

Veronica has always adored Christmas. Every year she wants to put the Christmas tree up earlier than anyone else and she starts playing carols, singing along. Making Christmas shopping lists is a matter of utmost urgency and care. And Christmas shopping trips must be planned well in advance. I thought this was something she’d grow out of – perhaps after discovering the secret about Santa’s true identity. But no – at seventeen, she’s as enthusiastic as ever.

 

 

Every year Veronica pesters me to take her to Christmas Kingdom and buy more STUFF. It’s been an annual ritual since she was about nine.

Veronica at Christmas Kingdom

Veronica at Christmas Kingdom

Miniature village

Miniature village

Now, it’s not that I’m an excessive spender, but over the years the STUFF has accumulated. Her enthusiasm is annoyingly infectious. I find it impossible to say ‘NO’ when she pleads for ‘just one more’ decoration for the tree. We now have about three miniature moving English villages, large silver stars swinging from trees in the backyard, a tiny Santa rocking on a swing, a glowing Santa that lights up against a wall, a battery-operated Santa that pushes a cart, a dancing Santa, stuffed unicorns, large gold reindeers and reams of plastic lead-light Christmas stickers on windows. Not to mention the hoards of decorations and tinsel covering every inch of bench space.

Christmas unicorn

Christmas unicorn

 

I asked her why she loves Christmas so much and she said it’s because it’s a time for celebration. I was mildly and pleasantly surprised. At least she didn’t say because of the presents. And she loves the carols. Because of Veronica, we watch Carols by Candlelight every Christmas Eve. She insists the whole family do this together.

So you can imagine how devastated she was when she found out she had to have FOUR wisdom teeth removed last week.

 

‘Not in the holidays!’ she wailed. ‘Plus I have a Christmas party on Sunday!’ But it had to be done. After suffering braces for two years, there was no chance we were going to let those wisdom teeth undo all the good work that had been done. (not to mention the cost…)  So off to hospital she went.

It’s a painful experience. I remember going through exactly the same procedure at her age. As I drove her home from the hospital, she turned her face to the window so I couldn’t see her tears.

I predicted time spent in bed watching movies and eating custard and ice-cream the following day. There wouldn’t be much room for Christmas cheer amid the pain-killers, mouth wash and ice-packs.

Harry Potter cupcakes

Harry Potter cupcakes

 

But no. Before lunchtime, Veronica was in the kitchen dressed in her Christmas t-shirt and ear-rings. ‘I have to make some cupcakes for the party tomorrow,’ she said. With a bandage swathed around her head holding ice against her swollen cheeks, she cooked and she iced, baking and stirring for the entire day and evening. Cooking for her friends and creating a magical gift, instead of buying something from the shops. In-between, she threw up twice, as a reaction to the anaesthetic she’d had the day before.

 

 

Harry Potter cookies

Harry Potter cookies

 

It was a Harry Potter themed party so she made dozens of multi-coloured miniature cupcakes, all topped with the letter ‘H’ for all to eat, plus a special batch of Harry Potter cookies as a Kris Kringle gift.

Veronica, smiling through the pain

Veronica, smiling through the pain

 

 

 

And unlike her difficult, camera-shy brother (see earlier post ‘Who is that Stranger Hiding from the Camera) she was even happy to pose for a photo for me – despite her swollen and slightly bruised face.

How could I have dared to even think of complaining about the Christmas chaos in our house when the creator is our beautiful daughter who brings us and so many others, so much joy? To complain about anything, particularly to do with our children, when others are suffering such unimaginable grief in Newtown, would be criminal. To those families, I send my deepest, most-heart-felt sympathies, hugs and tears.

Instead, this is my ‘thank you’ story. Thank you, Veronica, my darling daughter for being you and keeping the Christmas Spirit thriving in our home. And to whichever God is out there, looking out for my family and keeping them safe. Thank you. Forever, thank you.

What you SHOULD do instead of getting a SPRAY TAN for the Party Season

It has to be said. There are far too many spray-tans-gone-wrong being flaunted at Christmas parties right now. I’m not dissing spray tans as such, but when they crossover into the fluro-orange Ompa Loompah shade, it’s not a good look. Sure, it’s better than signing up for skin-cancer inducing solarium sessions or frying yourself in oil under the sun, but I’d still rather look at other solutions.

ARGHHHHHH….

ARGHHHHHH….

One of my favourite options right now is to build up a natural looking tan by using a moisturiser that also doubles as a gradual tanning lotion. As far as I’m concerned, the best one on the market is Dove Summer Glow. It doesn’t streak, nor does it leave an overpowering, acrid ‘fake tan’ smell hovering around. But I do buy the one labelled ‘medium to dark skin’ because I found ‘fair to medium’ just didn’t cut it.

Dove Summer Glow

Dove Summer Glow

 

It’s also a reasonably priced product. I try to buy the larger size with a pump dispenser as it’s more cost-effective and easier to use, but it seems harder to come by these days with supermarkets constantly cutting back on many of their product ranges.

But whatever shape it comes in, the end result is a more natural looking glow (‘scuse the pun) than a spray tan, which is more in keeping with fashion trends right now. Take a look at any fashion mag and you’ll find the overly-bronzed bathing beauties of yesteryear have swum off into the sunset.

 

 

But an even better tip for great looking tanned legs is to buy a good quality pair of stockings. That way you get a smooth tone, no streaks and if you’re in-between leg waxes – a decent camouflage as well. I KNOW this is a good tip worth sharing with you because it’s the fashion question I get asked the most, when people (mostly girls) discover my legs are not my own! Write this down – you won’t regret it!

VOODOO PANTYHOSE          Colour – JABOU

Getting the colour right is essential. So I’ll say it again. Remember – JABOU!!!! This is the closest looking colour to a natural tan you’ll find anywhere.

The Voodoo Pantyhose range at Myer

The Voodoo Pantyhose range at Myer

Voodoo Hosiery usually take up a decent amount of the shop floor at most major department stores across Australia. But there are so many different varieties, it can get confusing. Here’s what I’ve discovered after trialling many of them. And they’re not cheap, so hopefully this will prevent you from making the same mistakes I’ve made.

Shine Sheer to Waist VERSUS Shine Firm Control

Shine Sheer to Waist VERSUS Shine Firm Control

 

The Shine Sheer to Waist version in the red packet retails for $13.95. So you might think this is a better option than the Shine Firm Control in the yellow packaging – being one dollar cheaper…

 

But think again. I find the red version ladders more easily as the texture of the pantyhose is finer, right up to the waist. The yellow version is thicker around the tummy so it doesn’t ladder as readily and also pulls in any unsightly bulges which is also a huge bonus! It’s also cheaper to buy in bulk, so pick the 3-pack. You can never have enough stockings in reserve at home. (I also keep one in the glove-box of my car for emergencies!)

Sheer Toe Pantyhose work well with open-toe sandals

Sheer Toe Pantyhose work well with open-toe sandals

 

For those of you wanting to wear open-toe sandals, this is still possible. There are two varieties of Voodoo stockings to pick from.

 

 

One is the Sheer Toe Pantyhose, which I prefer as only the pickiest of fashionistas will be able to notice, but for those who consider stockings and open-toe sandals a downright fashion crime, there’s also the open-toe stocking variety – Glow Toeless. This has an opening at the end of the stockings, with one stitch in place to hold the fabric around your big toe. It can work, but generally I find these a little uncomfortable, plus the line where the stocking ends has to fit exactly with the line of your sandal. And the Glow Toeless variety comes under a different colour scheme (God knows why… ) so they don’t come in the cherished Jabou colour. Golden Glow would be the next best shade, but it’s still not as good as Jabou.

And for those of you who love a bargain and on-line shopping, yes, I have checked out the price comparisons. There are many on-line options, however Stockingsonline.com.au seems to have the broadest range. BUT, while their Voodoo hosiery is slightly cheaper, I couldn’t find ONE PAIR that came in the Jabou colour. Sorry… Guess you’re going to have to make that trip to your local Myer or David Jones after all! But DO let me know if you find a cheaper way of tracking down the one and only Jabou. Especially in the Shine Firm Control yellow pack. Thanks.

 

 

Hidden Treasure – Where to buy FAB fashion AND paper mache pigs

Every now and then, you come across a shop that truly is an Aladdin’s Cave full of hidden treasure. The sort of store you can circle for hours, continually discovering prized booty you didn’t spy the first time around.

Belle and Beans is exactly that. Nestled under the railway bridge along the Gardenvale shopping strip, it’s also a double-purpose shop – filled with great ideas for gifts AND colourful clothing. For me, this means I can visit – ostensibly on a Christmas shopping mission – but if I happen to be diverted by a new party frock I absolutely MUST buy for myself, then that’s completely justifiable – right? After all, I went there, purely motivated by the need to ‘give’…. Plus everything is SO reasonably priced, you could hardly be accused of over-spending.

Belle & Beans, Martin Street - Gardenvale

Belle & Beans, 142 Martin Street – Gardenvale

Owner Nova Healy started up her first Belle and Beans store in Highett three years ago, then came across a vacant space in Gardenvale that captured her imagination. ‘I really fell in love with this store because of the location and space and I really wanted it,’ she said. ‘It’s really visual.’ Her new Gardenvale store opened just over six weeks ago.

Belle and Beans interior

Belle and Beans interior

With two connecting rooms, Nova has made the most of the space, filling it with ingenious feature pieces  – including a tee-pee – and displays of bright clothing, jewellery and shoes. She’s had so much fun decorating her new store, it’s inspired her to relaunch her original Highett shop with similarly bright, funky decor.

 

Belle and Nova Healy

Belle and Nova Healy

 

A mother of three, Nova says the name of her store came from a combination of her daughter’s names – Belle, being the eldest who also works there part-time, and, her youngest daughter, nicknamed ‘Beans’.

She says the playful spirit of the interior design evolved organically. ‘It’s evolved naturally because I travel overseas and have been going to Indonesia and Bali for years, so I’ve got friends over there with furniture factories and businesses so that’s how it’s come about.’

 

Fortunately for me, my friend Rochelle was back in Melbourne, on a break from her TV Production Assistant job, and was able to model for me once more. So let’s take a look at our favourite outfits that are in Belle and Beans right now and then I’ll show you a few fab present ideas:

Inzagi black lace top $49.95 with Spy Clothing silver pencil skirt $69.95

Inzagi black lace top $49.95 with Spy Clothing silver pencil skirt $69.95

Lime 'Pink Stitch' maxi dress $89.95 with Buddha necklace $49.95

Lime ‘Pink Stitch’ maxi dress $89.95 with Buddha necklace $49.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belle and Beans 'State' slate grey dress $99.95

Belle and Beans ‘State’ slate grey dress $99.95

Belle and Beans aqua dress $79.95, Feather sandals $139.95 and Belle and Beans beaded belt $29.95

Belle and Beans aqua dress $79.95, Feather sandals $139.95 and beaded belt $29.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the clothes are sourced through agencies, but an increasing number are designed by Nova herself, under her Belle and Beans label. ‘I design and screen print and obviously have staff who help do that. I’ve been designing for about three years now. I like bright – I love colour! Some people go whoa… but it works.’

Bellini black top $59.95 and Caroline Morgan pants $49.95

Bellini black top $59.95 and Caroline Morgan pants $49.95

Spicy Sugar maxi dress $89.95

Spicy Sugar maxi dress $89.95

 

Sadie scarf print dress $79.95 with Belle and Bean sandals $99.95

Sadie scarf print dress $79.95 with Belle and Bean sandals $99.95

My Direction studded skirt $59.95

My Direction studded skirt $59.95

 

Best of all, the prices on some of these pieces are unbelievably cheap. Can you believe this gorgeous studded skirt is just under sixty dollars???? Nova says that’s part of her strategy for the stores, making them particularly attractive for her younger clientele who might not have huge wallets but have an enormous passion for high-turnover fashion.

 

 

Another reason to feel ‘guilt-free’ when shopping at Belle and Beans, is that Nova sources most of her gifts through a company called Tractor, run by a local Melbourne girl. ‘It’s a bit like Oxfam,’ said Nova. ‘She goes travelling all over the world and they employ villagers to make things which gives them an income.’ Fantastic – ethical AND original! So let’s look at some of my favourite gift ideas:

First up, HAND-BAGS!

Skull bags $189.95

Skull bags $189.95

Pink Lion bag $350

Pink Lion bag $350

Pink stud bag $29.95
Pink stud bag $29.95

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t wait to show you this – my favourite item in Belle and Beans and one of the most quirky presents I’ve seen. Where else could you find a PAPER MACHE PIG?? An ideal gift for the man in your life. Tell him he looks like George Clooney and explain that you’ve bought him just the right pet to perfect the image – but he won’t have to clean up after this little porky. (more masculine colours available too!)

Paper macho pigs $150

Paper macho pigs $150

 

Paper mache Bulldogs $150

Paper mache Bulldogs $150

Nova’s a big fan of the pigs too. ‘I fell in love with the pigs in Bali. That’s where they’re made. They make them out of paper mache and you can order them in any colour or style paper you like. They’re good fun. So many people fall in love with them too.’ Although dog lovers may prefer these perky little bulldogs instead…

 

Antelope heads $150

Antelope heads $150

 

 

For something a bit more ‘Christmassy’, the Antelope heads are also a popular choice for children’s bedrooms.

 

 

 

Tee Pee $120

Tee Pee $120

 

 

 

But Nova’s biggest seller for kids is this magical Tee-Pee, which comes complete with detachable ‘dress-ups’, velcro-ed to the side of the tent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamente tea-candle cups $10.95 each

Diamente tea-candle cups $10.95 each

 

And if you need to buy me a gift, I’d happily settle for half a dozen of these sparkly diamente the-candle cups – a steal at just $10.95 each.

Happy shopping!

Who IS that stranger hiding from the camera?

I broke my blogging rule regarding family matters last month. Originally, the intention was to forewarn Fletch and the kids if I was intending to write about them, but that went out the window when I posted a story about Fletch’s addiction to the Catch of the Day website – without his prior knowledge. Thankfully he didn’t mind.

Tom's desk and school books

Tom’s desk and school books

 

So I figured, once a personal rule is broken, it no longer exists – right? Which meant I started writing a story about my 15-year-old son without him knowing, only to find he is SO much more sensitive about that concept than his father.

 

 

Mid-year exam results

Mid-year exam results

I WAS going to write about how well he’d done at school this year and how hard he’d studied for his exams, which are now over. In particular, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that he is developing beautifully as a writer and I am often filled with wonder and delight when I read his work. The way he’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised if he publishes a book before me.

 

With that in mind, here’s the conversation that ensued when I approached Tom to take a photograph. I always like to keep Blog photos as recent as possible – as any journo knows, it kills a story if the pictures are dated.

‘No, you can’t take my photo, Mum,’ he said, running for his bed and diving into it face down, pulling the sheet off the mattress.
‘Oh, come on….’ I pleaded. ‘I need a recent one for a Blog.’
‘What’s it about?’
‘It’s about what a brilliant writer you are.’
‘I’m not a brilliant writer. That’s not even interesting. You can’t do a Blog on me. Especially photos. What about privacy?’

My attempt at a 'selfie' with Tom

My attempt at a ‘selfie’

‘You put your own photos on Facebook all the time, plus you have already let me use photos of you from a family holiday earlier and now you’re more than six foot tall and fifteen years old, I think you’ll be safe.’ I said, well aware he was looking for excuses. ‘Let’s do a selfie!’ I squealed, snapping away, my inner-paparazzi relishing the challenge.

 

Moments before the pillow fight

Moments before the pillow fight

 

Hmm, that’s obviously a completely embarrassing idea. He jumped off the bed, grabbing his pillow as camouflage. Before whacking me with it. And starting a pillow fight. Which isn’t fair because he’s now taller and stronger than me.

I think the photo sequence that follows speaks for itself…

 

 

A flurry of activity follows as he tries to escape his evil mother...

A flurry of activity follows as he tries to escape his evil mother…

There's no unlocking those arms...

There’s no unlocking those arms…

A rolling manoeuvre as he attempted escape….

A rolling manoeuvre as he attempts escape….

…only led to a crash-landing.

…only leads to a crash-landing. For a split second, I worry about his back…

 

 

 

…but he rebounds, defiant.

…but he rebounds, defiant.

…even daring a glimpse from undercover, but I'm not quick enough.

…even daring a glimpse from undercover, but I’m not quick enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grab for the doona, and he dives back to the bed...

I grab for the doona, but he dives back to the bed…

Again, he covers himself and at last, lies still and silent.

Again, he covers himself and at last, lies still and silent.

And then…

He has the final word.

Tom's final word

Tom’s final message

I gave up. Sometimes I really feel for the paparazzi.

But I lie. There’s no way I’m giving him the final word. As if. One last story before I sign off to explain why I know Tom will be a writer. Or a journalist.

Off all his essays, in particular, I loved the biography he wrote after interviewing his Grandma. He described how his Great-Gran left England, ‘inhaling deeply as she boarded the gang-plank to the ship, as if taking a last breath from her homeland to her new country.’

‘Beautiful’ I murmured, as I read that line, sighing with the poetic impression of it all. ‘Except Tom,’ I said, ‘that you know your Great-Gran was born in Australia. She never set foot on a ship leaving from England.’

‘ Yeah, ‘ ‘I know’ he said, shrugging nonchalantly. ‘It just made for a better story.’

See??? Of course he’s going to be a writer!
(FYI – he did actually approve this in the end – even though he thinks it’s completely stupid.)

Australia’s Women in Media Unite – A Day of Laughter and Tears

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy

 

‘I am woman, hear me roar,’ sang Helen Reddy in 1971 and let us never forget the power of that anthem. Yes, it was a WOMAN who was the first Australian to write a Grammy Award winning song. And yes, Reddy made waves with her Best Female Performance acceptance speech, thanking ‘God, because She makes everything possible.’ A true legend.

 

 

It was a case of WOMAN POWER in abundance at Crown yesterday, where General Manager of Public Relations, Ann Peacock, hosted the 14th annual Women In Media Christmas Lunch. Men have had their boys’ clubs and coteries for centuries and I ‘Thank God‘ that Ann came up with this concept to recognise and bring together the biggest power players in our communication industries for an annual event. We’re talking about our best known journalists, PR powerhouses, media managers, TV and radio personalities and yes, even a couple of bloggers. (My, the stories I heard… )

Breezes Restaurant at Crown

Breezes Restaurant at Crown

 

The lunch was held at Crown’s Breezes restaurant, with champagne served outside on the patio  under the sun to kick-start the day.

 

 

 

Brigitte Duclos, Santa and me

Brigitte Duclos, Santa and me

Of course, it’s not Christmas without Santa… Re-living our childhood, I was delighted to test the strength of Santa’s knees along with my oldest and dearest buddy, Brigitte Duclos, (GOLD FM Breakfast radio host) who has been a close friend since we met in kindergarten, many moons ago…

Me - top left, and Brigitte - middle row, far right

Me – top left, and Brigitte – middle row, far right

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dee Dee Dunleavy

Dee Dee Dunleavy

 

And while there were lots of laughs to be had, with many keen to jump Santa, (including the delightful Dee Dee Dunleavy who I’m thrilled has found another radio gig – this time with 3AW on Sundays, along with her loyal cohort Grubby) there were also plenty of serious discussions about the state of the media industry, and what the future holds for those who’ve taken redundancies and chosen a different path. Questions abounded about traditional media versus new media and how to make the two work together. Others talked about the battle of  juggling work and motherhood. And the old chestnut reared it’s ugly head – you know, sexism in the workplace and how it impacts on women.

 

Pristine before the mob descends...

Pristine before the mob descends…

 

As the chatter grew, I snuck inside the marquee to check out the table setting which I’d glimpsed through the plastic. Wow – what a picture! A cacophony of pink florals and Christmas trinkets scattered strategically down the centre of the table, perfectly accented by old-worlde wooden school chairs, painted in pastel hues. It almost seemed a shame that guests would soon be ushered inside to upset such perfection.

Personalised Christmas decoration

Personalised Christmas decoration

 

 

The attention to detail was meticulous. Each guest had their spot marked with a delicate glass Christmas ornament encasing a silver bird, with attached personalised name tag.

Women in Media lunch gets underway at Breezes

Women in Media lunch gets underway at Breezes

 

 

Then in one big rush, the hordes swooped and amid a clattering of chairs and clinking of glasses, it was ‘game on’! But the crescendo of noise subsided when Ann Peacock took to the podium and began to speak, recognising that one of the fold was missing from the table. A hush fell as Ann paid tribute to the late, legendary publicist Suzie Howie, who recently passed after a long battle with cancer.

 

 

 

The late Suzie Howie

The late Suzie Howie

Ann quoted Suzie’s famous words that she penned herself when she knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer. ‘I have had a terrific life and am so grateful for the fun, the excitement and the wonderful people who have been a part of it.’

Remembering Suzie, Ann spoke of her incredible work ethic and how she continued to work right up to the end. Ann met Suzie when she was just 17 years old,  and counted her as an important role model and inspiration. ‘Time and time again, she displayed her tireless motivation and attention to detail that she paid her clients. I miss her laugh, but she has left us with so many happy memories. Suzie was a true leading lady and those memories will live on.’ Happy memories yes, but those of us who knew Suzie were still reaching for our tissues. I also knew Suzie for more than 20 years and was particularly grateful for her support and kindness after I left Channel Ten.

Crown General Manage Public Relations Ann Peacock

Crown General Manage Public Relations Ann Peacock

 

Ann also acknowledged every guest at the table and recognised the hard work done during the year, but said now was a time for celebration – a chance to kick back and have fun. But she also reminded us all, ‘What goes on in the room, stays in the room!’ Standard.

In ending, she encouraged everyone to take to heart a final message from Suzie, to stay positive.’Enjoy life. I have,’ she quoted, from the inimitable Ms Howie.

 

And enjoy ourselves we did! After main course, James Reyne inspired many to sing along as he performed several of his greatest hits, including Reckless.

Singer James Reyne

Singer James Reyne

Events queen Judy Romano

Events queen Judy Romano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judging by the photos of everyone, I think we all took Suzie’s message on board. Here’s a collection of shots from the wonderful Women In Media Lunch. And I must say I very much enjoyed taking pictures of some of the print media girls for a change, who are usually on the other side of the camera. Although Suzanne Carbone and Mik Grigg from The Age declined being snapped, preferring to stay out of the spotlight. Which is fine, although somewhat curious…

Jo Hall, Amber Petty and Kate McGrath

Jo Hall (Channel Nine Newsreader), Amber Petty (columnist, blogger and publicist) and Kate McGrath (Channel Nine News Chief-of-Staff)

 

Alice Coster (Herald Sun) JulieKiriacoudis (Herald Sun) and Sarah Gale (AMPR publicist)

Alice Coster (Herald Sun journalist) JulieKiriacoudis (Herald Sun photographer) and Sarah Gale (AMPR publicist)

 

Danni Minogue and Inge Burke (Village Roadshow)

Danni Minogue and Inge Burke (National Publicity Manager, Roadshow Films)

Kate Langbroek, Sascha French, Ann Peacock

Kate Langbroek, (Nova radio host)  Sascha French (Nova radio producer) and Ann Peacock (Crown General Manager Public Relations)

Michelle Stamper (Channel Nine Publicist) and Ann Morrison (former head of AMPR)

Michelle Stamper (Channel Nine Publicist) and Ann Morrison (former head of AMPR)

Kate Keane and Kelly Black (Channel Seven Publicist)

Kate Keane (Kate & Co. Publicity)  and Kelly Black (Channel Seven Publicist)

 

Car boot jam-packed with Goodie Bags!

Car boot jam-packed with Goodie Bags!

Ann had warned us during her speech that we’d face a challenge carrying our Goodie Bags home. I didn’t register the PLURAL attached to the word BAGS at the time,but check this out…

Yep, not one, but FOUR Goodie Bags were given to each guest at the function.

 

 

I mentioned earlier that thing about attention to detail, didn’t I? Here’s another one. Crown even provided helpers to carry our bags to our cars… I know, I know. I was damn lucky to crack an invite. Thanks Ann! And I bet you’re all dying to know what’s actually IN the Goodie Bags, right? I will let you know, but enough for now. That can wait for the next blog, coming soon. I’m all for girl power, but seriously, I’m too exhausted now from just carrying the darn things through the door.